Charity volunteers join Covid-19 vaccination programme in Somerset

January 11 2021

VOLUNTEERS from Somerset-based charity Festival Medical Services (FMS) are working on the Covid-19 vaccination programme as it starts in care homes across the county.

The mobile teams include clinically-qualified staff who are carrying out injections for residents and staff, while other FMS volunteers will be joining them supporting the roll-out of the onward vaccination programme which will take place in the wider community in the near future

On their first day in action, FMS sent a team of four vaccinators to a care home in Glastonbury, where more than 100 people received their Covid-19 injections. This included residents and care home staff, along with some patient-facing staff from local medical practices.

FMS is a charity whose doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals, together with support staff, are best-known for volunteering at music festivals, such as Glastonbury and Reading, and other high-profile outdoor events. 

There they offer full on-site emergency medical services for fans, plus other healthcare services such as dentistry, podiatry, physiotherapy and mental healthcare.

FMS – headquartered in Evercreech – celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2019 and in June 2020 was honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

It is a charity itself and had raised more than £1 million for small-scale medical projects around the world before last year’s outbreak and lockdowns halted all its work and fundraising.

Managing director and retired GP Dr Chris Howes, from Croscombe, near Wells, said: “Many of our members, working in their main roles on the NHS frontline, have seen at first-hand and on a daily basis how devastating this pandemic has been and continues to be. We are humbled by the dedication and self-sacrifice of these colleagues and friends.

“For FMS, 2020 was the year when everything came to a halt. All our usual events were cancelled and with no income, we put the organisation into survival mode. With great reluctance we have had to stop making our normal and much-needed charitable grants. 

“At the moment of course we don’t know for sure when events will be able to restart. Much depends on the success of the vaccination programme and the behaviour of the virus, so we are very pleased to be offering our skills to our local community as this gets underway.

“We are doing our bit to help see off Covid-19 – and we can then start planning for Glastonbury and Reading and all the other live events that FMS supports – and bring in funds again for the world-wide medical charities and projects we champion.”